It’s an end of an era at Rivergum with Gary Bell stepping down as captain-coach of the North Metro Cricket Association club.

Bell, who has been instrumental in the success of the club in recent years, announced his decision to the playing group following their Jika Shield grand final loss to Rosebank on Sunday.

Bell said he had been thinking about calling it a day for the past couple of years and decided it was time.

“I have been thinking about it for the last couple of years and the body is pretty sore,” he said.

“The young fellow is starting to go up the grades, so it’s time for me to step away.

“I don’t know what will exactly happen in the next six months.”

Bell said he had made the decision to retire heading into the match. The news came as a surprise to everyone.

“I didn’t speak to anyone about it before,” he said. “My wife didn’t even know.

“I didn’t want it to be about me this weekend and just wanted to focus on the game.

“I had the dream we would bat first and do exactly what they [Rosebank] did.

“There’s more important things than losing a game of cricket.”

Bell will leave a lasting legacy at the club after a tough start.

He admits there were some people who wanted to sack him after his second year.

Since then, the Kookas claimed a Quick Shield before moving into the Jika Shield.

In the nine years since, they have played in eight Jika Shield grand finals, winning four of them.

Bell said he was proud of not only what they had achieved on the field, but also off it.

“They are all my best friends,” he said.

“It’s been 13 years and … sometimes it doesn’t feel like we’ve had that success.

“I’ve learnt it takes time, and I wasn’t the greatest coach when I first got there.

“I’m proud of the mates I’ve made. We’re mates and we hang out together outside cricket season we all keep in contact.

“I’m proud of what we have on the field, but more proud off the field. It’s a pretty good club.”

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